The Barrier, and Beyond

And then we come, at last, to the most questionable part of this essay. It is a subject that we know little or nothing about, save that we should desire it, because it contains all our hopes and dreams. But there are so many unknowns involved that I find myself uncertain of even my uncertainties: just when I think I know what I don't know, more information {or rumor} comes to taunt me.

What is Paradise? I call it Heaven, and expect to find God on His throne, and Jesus by his side. Still other Believers see it as other things, or just as an ideal state, or metaphor for a destination.

Meanwhile, the Order calls it the city of Charun, and expects to find their Emperor on his throne, hammer in hand. God only knows what the Haunters think they'll find on the other side, or those monstrously-deluded people who kneel at the feet of the Damned, or those so-called Dark Walkers.

Can Paradise really be all things to all people? The Angels deal fairly with all who deal with them, in spite of their religious leanings. Some of the more open-minded {or is that 'unable to make up their mind'?} Believers say that there is truth in all forms of belief, and the Angels are here to facilitate the quest for that truth. Perhaps Paradise is just a metaphor for being at peace, at long last.

But, more importantly, what is inbetween here and there? What is the Barrier, really? And what will we find there, when we finally step through it?

On one hand, there are the Angels, who use it to vanish from one place and reappear in another, and then walk us into it when the time comes. But then, the Damned also come from there as well, though only the strongest of their number can go through it with anything approaching ease. The rest must wait for the Storms that harry them through the Barrier in immense, deadly numbers.

Seen in that light, I am almost tempted to say that the Barrier is God's way of both denying us rest, until we have let go of our Anchors, and yet protecting us from further harm.

And yet the Reapers that hunt us, as though for sport, also come from there as well, and seem as adept as the Angels at using it to get around. And the Dark Walkers... and those Storms! How can the divine and the infernal come to us from the same door?

Perhaps the Barrier is more of a two-way street, leading both to Heaven and to Hell. It would explain why both good and evil can come through it. And as for why God would allow evil to come through it at all, we are back at the old question of why He allows evil to exist in His world. And that leads to yet another, long essay.

{A better question is why the Angels don't rescue those lost to the Reapers. I've asked, and they won't do it. They won't even respond to questions why, other than to say it is already 'too late.' Just that and nothing more.}

And so, once more, we are faced with a conundrum: we seek that which we cannot define with absolute knowledge, and will have no way of knowing if we were right until we find it. And the way is so hard, even with so many signs, and a trail well-laid by so many who have gone before us. It is indeed that undiscovered country, and for all our maps and legends we have barely begun to truly understand the way.

In the end, I can only speculate, and hope that my speculation in no way leeches away from my ability to believe, or to have faith...

"Faith." What does it mean to have faith? I thought I had it in sufficient quantity when I lived, only to find myself here.

Christ spoke of the faith the size of a mustard seed, but how much is that? How much is enough to leave? How can it be that we can walk with angels... talk to them, no less... and yet be so far from the Kingdom of God?

I just want this to end. I want to be done with this world. I want to see my wife and children again, and live with them forever, as I was promised. I want to clasp hands with Brother Warmth once more, as I have hoped I could do.

I just want to go to Heaven. I want to see my Lord, on high, and have Him tell me that I did good, or at least did the best good that I could. I just want him to at least acknowledge my presence, directly, even if it's only for a second...

But every day I spend here, in this place, I find myself falling further and further from its gates. The ceremonies are mere motions and my prayers with others only words.

Even when I teach others what I know I feel no joy, and no sense of duty. I just feel tired while I'm doing it, and then happy when it's done. Even the greatest smile of a student is no balm for my soul, anymore.

God help me. Please, please help me. Just a sign to guide my way to you... a star to light me in this darkness...

- From the Journal of Brother Samuel Ryans {missing, presumed Lost}

No Easy Answers

Much as there is no real way of saying what lies beyond the Barrier, neither is there any real way of saying what Transcendence actually is. Such matters go beyond dice rolling and exact rules, and cut right to the heart of a game about horror and hope. What does it mean to hope so much - to trust, even in the face of so much horror - that one can let go of all things holding one back, and step away from the remnants of life, itself?

Earthly religions and philosophies have been trying to come to grips with the questions of living and dying - and what they actually mean - since time out of mind. As one might expect, almost everyone has a different answer. And to echo a song quoted earlier in the book, "yours is not like mine, but it's alright - keep it up."

So, no, we won't be offering system mechanics for finding meaning in death, or letting it all go. And we won't be spilling the beans on what really happens when someone goes through the Barrier with the Ferrymen, or on their own {if that is, indeed, possible}. Such matters should be decided by the Storyteller, in keeping with the game she wants to run, and her players want to play.

This section has, hopefully, given a lot of ideas and background information, but it's no real guide - just another legend to a map that's no longer there. So long as everyone's having fun on the journey, that's what's really important.